Although you may know FeelGood CU as those people who made grilled cheese outside of JJ’s place, there’s so much more to them — they now deliver grilled cheese! But real talk: the Columbia chapter of FeelGood is the second oldest chapter in the country of the organization, which raises money for The Hunger Project through delicious sandwiches and awareness-raising conversation. The club is currently working on getting permanent space at Barnard after their forced evacuation from JJ’s place. Dairy enthusiast Alex Avvocato sat down with FeelGood co-presidents Mary Glenn and Murrill Oakes — who collectively go by the name Murry — to learn more about their club, goals, and favorite cheese combinations.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Bwog: Why grilled cheese?
Murry: That’s fair…FeelGood is on almost 30 college campuses around the country. The idea [is] of grilled cheese as a simple, easy thing to make but that’s also a staple comfort food. The grilled cheese is a vehicle through which you can actually talk to someone about the causes of poverty, and how something that simple can end up making a difference…since 2005, FeelGood has raised over 1.4 million dollars in grilled cheeses. The goal is about dialogue. We’re not just about raising money, but also about raising awareness and getting the message across.
Bwog: What’s the grilling and delivery process like?
Murry: We grill from Sunday through Wednesday, 8 pm to 12 am, in a private brownstone that’s not technically affiliated with Columbia. We have our own fridge and special little area, our own gloves, safety materials…[note: the entire group has certified safety training] and we have these heat-retaining lunch boxes. We send the grillers right to your door.
Bwog: On which nights do you get the most orders?
Murry: Honestly, it varies week to week. We get a lot on Tuesdays. [Bwog expresses surprise] Well, Spec has started ordering sandwiches for their meetings.
Bwog: Which situations are better for sweet or savory grilled cheeses?
Mary: I say that it’s always good to get one of each. You can whet the palate with some pesto and mozzarella, and finish it off with a smooth nutella and banana…
Bwog: Have you ever delivered to Butler?
Murry: Oh yeah.
Bwog: Is it sad?
Murry: We have some pictures snapped of people opening their grilled cheeses sitting in the library. But Butler and libraries are a prime resource to tap during finals. That’s why we deliver at night: students are having their second dinner…or stoned people want it too.
Bwog: What’s your ideal grilled cheese sandwich?
[Heavy deliberation between Mary and Murrill.]
Murrill: I’m a meat lover, but the FeelGood world asks that we not do that…I love Brie.
Mary: I’m gonna say…Swiss cheese with mushrooms, caramelized onions, and spinach. On wheat bread, I think. I guess that’s more of a sandwich than a grilled cheese, but you said add-ons. Your answer sucked.
Murrill: No, I’m not done. I had to get the cheese first…Brie with bacon bits, figs, and on a croissant.
Mary: [with heavy disdain] What?! A croissant?
Bwog: How do you come up with recipes?
Murry: We try to tap into the brains of the general body members — we’ve started cooking classes (and by cooking classes we mean we all just make pesto). A lot is also based on what we get donated; we try to spend as little money on ingredients as possible. We’ve had good relationships in the past with farmer’s markets. Recently, we got 45 pounds of leftover artisan breads…we eventually took this huge sack [of artisanal breads] and were giving it to random people on the street.
Bwog: Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese?
Mary: Oh my god. I’ve actually always thought about this question being asked to me, because we’re presidents of the cheese club.
[More heavy deliberation.]
Mary: This is hard for us. What if one of us give up one, and one of use give up the other?
Murrill: I think that sounds good.
Mary: You should give up the cheese and I’ll give up the oral sex.
Murrill: Okay. That’s fair.
Mary: I think that’s a bad answer…it’s a tough question.
Bwog: What are your respective favorite cheeses?
Murrill: Brie. I love my Brie.
Mary: I really like Manchego.
Bwog: Anything else you’d like to mention about FeelGood?
Murry: We should mention specifically where the money goes: to this organization called The Hunger Project. They do international development with a grassroots approach, so they work with real women, giving them the tools and the knowledge to sustainably lift themselves out of poverty instead of handouts of food or aid. The whole idea is partnership, not charity. And the parallel realization process is for people involved in the club to realize their own potential to actually make a concrete change.
Bwog: Any cheese that *wouldn’t* work on a grilled cheese sandwich?
Murry: [Yet more deliberation, until finally:] Maybe Parmesan.
FeelGood delivers grilled cheese to your dorm room door from 8 pm to 12 am Sunday through Wednesday nights — call (347) 676-0703 for your good-cause sandwich.
“We’re just making sandwiches, and people just want their sandwiches.” — Murry